Monday, March 14, 2011

Baby food time- Peas!

Adam is now 7 months old. SEVEN MONTHS. ::sigh:: Hard to think hes already that old. Well, around 4 months I started to introduce solids (rice cereal) in high hopes that it would keep him full and help him sleep for a few hours at a time, if not all night.
At 4 months he really was not interested in the food at all. He would just spit it out. I was persistent and I offered it to him everyday, usually in the morning when he was happiest. It took about a month of this before he started to actually eat any of it. And once he got the hang of it, hes been on a roll eating! I cant honestly say that its helped any with his sleeping, like Ive said before, he just isn't a great sleeper.

One thing I really wanted to do with Adam was to make his baby food. This isn't something I really thought I  had the "time" to do when Savanna was a baby. Now that I'm making 95% of his food I realize that I DID have the time. It really takes such a minimal amount of time. Bummer. But really Savanna only ate "baby" food for 2 months, she had teeth early and really like to eat food she could chew.

Once Adam mastered rice cereal, I started introducing a new food every few days, At this time I did use store bought organic baby food. The main reason was that I didn't want to make a huge batch of something only to find out he was allergic. He tolerated everything like a champ! Then I started making small batches here and there, but this was the part that was really time consuming. So a few weeks ago I spent a day making several large batches of Adams favorites at the moment.

I made peas, apple/pears sauce, yellow squash, and carrots. It was really fun, and even though it seems like I spent the "whole day" making baby food I really didn't, I made it in between the normal goings on here. My children don't leave me large blocks of time to get anything done let alone an entire day! :)

My friend Marni is a baby-food maker too and she has great tutorials! Ive definitely been using her as a guide!

My first order of business this day was the peas. Adam really likes peas, and I had tried and *failed* at peas a few days earlier.

FAILED? At peas? YES! I had read online somewhere an easy way to make peas. I was so excited especially as it didn't involve shucking a 10 pound pile of fresh peas in order to get an ice cube tray full! and its not really pea season anyway! I won't link you to the post as I don't honestly think the *fail* was on me, it just wasn't something that worked in general.
But I will tell you what I did,
Take 1 bag split peas
grind to a fine powder
mix with boiling water to the desired consistency
place in trays.

Sounded easy and almost effortless. I did everything and I even have a blender/emulsifier that is more than capable of grinding to fine powder. The end result of this was horrible, bland, dirt flavored, mealy, peas.

They went to the garbage. I could NOT serve them to Adam.

My next attempt, of similar process, just in a different order!
I started with about a pound and a half of organic split peas.

Make sure that you wash these very thoroughly  

Add them to your crock pot and cover with water. I wasn't sure how much water at first so I did equal amounts of water and peas but I ended up adding more and more water threw out the day. So next time I will just pretty much fill the crockpot. 
They soak up a lot of water

Let them cook for hours! I would say like 5 on high until they are tender enough that you can mash one in between your fingers.Mine cooked longer but I had them on low, and at one point on warm because I had to leave and didn't want them to soak up all the water in my absence and burn.
Once they reach the point of being done strain the peas and reserve the water. 

Place the peas in the blender/emulsifier  (my mom recently bought a vita mix so we have a very powerful blender) But this should work just as well in any blender or food processor, and if you are having trouble I would just try smaller batches. I was able to put my entire crock pot of peas in at once, as it mixed I added some of the reserved water to thin them a bit. ( you can also use breastmilk or formula to thin and for extra nutrients and calories, I use the water because I have been throwing some misc pureed veggies into our meals)
Once you reach your desired Constancy you can spoon the peas into ice cube trays and freeze. (these are the ice cube trays from IKEA. They are NOT ideal for a batch of this size, but they are cute! Once they are frozen I pop them out on a clean surface and bag them in quart size zip-locks, and place several of those into a larger zip-lock and store them in our large garage freezer. I keep 1 quart sized bag of each variety of food in my inside freezer, about a weeks worth give or take a few days.
This batch made about 6 regular size ice cube trays and 4 IKEA trays. I think I will add more water and make them a much thinner consistency resulting in a few more trays yielded out of that batch. During the freezing and reheating I think they loose a little too much moisture and I end up adding a tablespoon of water per 2 cubes when I make them for Adam.

The blending and pouring into trays takes less than 10 minutes,I spent about 15 minutes threwout the day adding water and stirring, and then about another 10 to bag and label the frozen peas. 35 total minutes of my time is well worth the savings and nutritional value.  Adam will eat about 3-4 ounces of food at any givin sitting, 3-4 sittings a day.
Organic baby food is between $1-$1.50 per 3oz jar. I spent $2 on the bag of organic split peas. That is a HUGE savings.

One other thing, I do not like peas. I despise them. I will not eat them and pick them out of anything they may be in. As I was testing for the done-ness of them, and as I was blending them I did try them. I have to say the flavor of these vs. the flavor of canned or even fresh peas is amazing. They had a very rich, almost meaty flavor!

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